How to indulge yet stay healthy while traveling

How to Indulge, Yet Stay Healthy While Traveling

Note: If you travel often for work and simply want strategies to eat healthy on the road, read here. If you are like me and want to enjoy some great food on vacation, but not feel like you’ve put your healthy habits on the back burner, continue reading. 

How to Stay Healthy Traveling, While Still Indulging I work to travel. Period. When I travel, I actually seek out the best restaurants and bakeries! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten whatever I want for an entire vacation and then wanted to continue to indulge once I’ve got back home into my routine. “Lets just go get pizza tonight because I don’t want to cook.” This is common. When you indulge often, food cravings skyrocket, even when you are back in your normal environment. If I could pinpoint an area where I struggle with nutrition, it is always related to traveling. I’m a foodie at heart. Sometimes the first memory of a trip is simply meals I have eaten!

So, why should you try to stick with your healthy habits throughout your vacation? To keep the momentum going for when you return home. This has been my biggest learning lesson over the years of traveling. I had to start finding workarounds so I could indulge in amazing food, but still keep some healthy habits during the trip. This has helped me return home feeling motivated and ready to get back into my routine instead of wanting to continue to indulge. Here are my strategies!

For Flight Days:

1.) Pack Your Go-To Food

I spent most of the day on the airplane for my recent flight from Seattle to Scotland. To be prepared to stick with my habits, I packed snacks and a full dinner onto the airplane. On my recent trip to NYC, when we landed at 5 PM EST, all I really needed was dinner once I arrived. So, I packed a breakfast and a lunch for the airport. I ate the breakfast scramble as I waited to board my flight and I had my salad on the flight during my normal lunch time. My energy was good, I didn’t feel too full, I consumed at least 5 servings of vegetables and I didn’t arrive to my destination starving wanting to eat whatever was in sight.

Action Steps: Pack Your Most Satisfying Healthy Meal

This is the best way for me to avoid caving on comfort snacks or food at the airport/airplane. You might have go-to healthy, satisfying items in the airport! If so, even better. Some other go-to items I like to pack: chopped celery, carrots or bell peppers, nuts or a RX bar. These work great for shorter flights and I can even save them throughout my trip if I find myself hungry.

My Other Strategies

1.) Make Time for Strength Training in the Morning 

I don’t strength train every day, but I do find a way to move daily. On vacation, on days I don’t strength train, I look to hit at least 15,000 steps. Some days I’m right at it, while others I hit 25,000-30,000. If I have access to a gym, I might do 15-20 minutes of interval training on a bike, elliptical or treadmill at an incline. Keep it short and sweet. My goal with strength training on vacation is to simply keep my momentum going with workouts for when I return home. It helps me maintain my strength while I’m on vacation versus feeling like I’ve taken two steps back. I don’t strive to create a perfect strength workout, but focus on simply doing something.

Action Steps: Look to see if your Hotel Has a Gym.

If not, do you have a gym close to the hotel? When I was in NYC, I found a gym about 10 blocks from my hotel with free access. I was actually able to continue my normal strength routine since I had access to everything I needed. I loved it! In England and Scotland, I didn’t have access to my normal equipment so I put together a basic workout.

Option Two: Pack a Few Go-To Items.

For me, I simply packed my Sling-Band and a few other mini bands. They work great to add more resistance to simple body weight exercises like squats, push ups, bridges, overhead presses or isolating glute exercises.

2.) Split Meals

Splitting meals allows you to do just what you want, taste the meal! In the past, every time I would order a pizza/pasta/{insert other comfort food here} for just myself, I always felt tired and too full after the meal. Not only does splitting meals save money, but it also allows you to eat less. This is one of my favorite strategies when traveling. I also do this when going to a bakery. NYC is a dessert paradise. We split some of our absolute favorites: a mini banana pudding, cupcake, croissant or the amazing babka bread throughout our stay in the city.

3.) Ask Yourself, Does it Look Amazing? 

This is my new go-to strategy for my bakery obsession. I love to peek my head into any bakery that catches my eye. Throughout my entire trip in England, I practiced asking myself this question, “does it look amazing?” I’m quite the dessert critic, so if a piece of cake looked dry, I easily passed. I found myself walking out a lot of bakeries empty handed! What if it looks good and it isn’t? When this happens, I ask if someone who I’m traveling wants it or simply throw it in the trash and eat the cost. This is my same strategy for ordering meals. Unfortunately, you can’t see the food first like a bakery, so splitting meals is always helpful.

Action Step: Be picky! If you’re not sure if it looks good, choose to split it with someone. 

4.) Seek Out Vegetables 

This can relate with number two, splitting meals. While in NYC, I found ways to split meals with my mom (like a lovely pasta dish) but ordered a salad to go with it. Since your dinner portion is much smaller, adding the salad acts as a great filler to keep me full after the meal was completed. Another option: find a local grocery store. Since our hotel room had a fridge, I also stocked up on some pre-washed greens from the grocery store. This worked well for adding a vegetable with breakfast.

Action Step: Every meal, scan the menu for a serving of vegetables. You’ll get the nutrients from the vegetables, which also help you stay full, while still leaving room for something you really want. 

5.) Start Your Morning With a Go-To Healthy Meal

I can’t emphasize this enough. Not only do you start your day with good energy, but it also keeps you full for hours! My normal go-to Europe breakfast has been something on-the-go like a delicious morning pastry. I found that it didn’t keep me full very long and it also affected my energy. Plus, I was eating something sweet to start my day, which lead me to want to continue to eat something sweet throughout the day. While traveling throughout England and Scotland, I found their “English breakfast” was a perfect meal to start my day. It consisted of eggs, ham/sausage/bacon, baked beans and a vegetable like mushrooms or asparagus. It was perfect! It’s large and I couldn’t eat it all, but I shared some with my husband. I often skipped the beans because nothing beats my Grandpa’s recipe 🙂 If your hotel has a free breakfast, load up on your protein options and pair it with a piece of fruit, vegetable or potato. In NYC, I had spinach, scrambled eggs and a piece of sausage every day to start my morning. It kept me full for at least 4 hours.

Edinburgh

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We spent three nights in Edinburgh, but if you are fast travelers, you could easily do two full days. Since this was the start of our trip, it was nice to have an extra day to relax. To save money on our flight, we actually flew into Glasgow and took a train to Edinburgh. Google flights is a great tool to use to find opportunities to lower your flight cost. Here are the highlights of our trip!

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Hotel: Fraser Suites

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This hotel was right on the Royal Mile, making it an ideal location for sight seeing. Plus, it’s about a 10 minute walk from the train station so we didn’t need to take a taxi to our hotel.

Cost: including tax was $126 a night. This might be because it was during the off-season, but it was so spacious and clean! It included a living area with a couch and chair, large bathroom, small kitchen setup (without a stove) and a decent gym! I would definitely recommend staying here.

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Stroll & Shop the Royal Mile

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This strip is in the heart of Old Town and filled with restaurants, bars and shopping. We also paid for a short tour at Gladstone’s Land, a 17th century merchant’s residence.

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Edinburgh Castle

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It cost about $21 a person to enter, but if offers great views and history of the city. You’ll be able to see the crown jewels, great hall, one of the largest cannons used in Europe and receive a free Scotch whiskey tasting! This was a short walk from our hotel.

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Palace of Holyroodhouse

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This palace was the residence of the King and Queen of Scotland starting in the 16th century. They still use this palace for entertaining. We enjoyed strolling through the royal apartments, chambers, great hall and more. The gardens were unfortunately not open during our visit.

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Hike Up to Calton Hill

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Along with Arthur’s seat, these two short hikes offer some of the best views of the city. It’s opposite of the Edinburgh castle. We walked up here in the morning then headed straight to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

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Stroll Down Victoria Street

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Especially if you are a Harry Potter fan, you will love this cute street! It’s filled with shops and restaurants, but I enjoyed the bright buildings. Since J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh during the time she was writing the first few books of Harry Potter, she used this street as inspiration for Diagon Alley. As you walk from the bottom of the street, it slightly curves up as you walk up. It also has a joke shop!

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Other good sights to see

National Museum of Scotland

St Giles’ Cathedral

Dean Village – this is a beautiful place to walk around!

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Memorable Meals

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La Locanda – this is located right off the Royal Mile. It’s a great family owned Italian restaurant and they served up the best lasagna I have ever eaten.

The Elephant House – great coffee and desserts. We split a salted caramel brownie (twice!). This is the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few books of Harry Potter. It’s a cute cafe with a great view of the Edinburgh castle from the back room!

Wildfire – a  Scottish steakhouse. Be sure to make a reservation. It’s a small restaurant and located in the New Town, about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.

The Devil’s Advocate – we enjoyed a great cocktail here. It’s tucked back in an alley off the Royal Mile, but the bartenders dress in fancy aprons and you feel like a local.

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The Secret to Success With Diet and Exercise

My Biggest Secret To Success with Diet & Exercise

The Secret to Success With Diet and ExerciseOver the course of my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of people looking to improve their diet or stick to an exercise plan. It’s hard for anyone to truly make a change, especially if they have years or decades of less than stellar habits. I’ve written about my own journey here.

So, what’s the secret for actually making a lifestyle last…well…forever?

Make your meals satisfying and enjoy what you’re doing for an exercise program. 

For diet: If you are cooking healthy meals that you don’t enjoy, your journey at cooking healthy will be short lived. The common American comfort foods are popular for a reason – they’re satisfying and they keep us wanting to come back for more! So, how can you make your home cooked meals or healthy meal dining out satisfying?

  • Add fat for flavor. Fats tend to get bad press. Remember in the early 90’s when everything needed to be low fat? All fats are not bad fats. My go-to fat choices are olive oil, ghee, coconut oil or even butter. I rarely eat vegetables raw or steamed because I simply don’t like them as much (except carrots, leafy greens & steamed green beans because they are enjoyable). I roast or sauté almost all of my vegetables with my choice of fat. This is what keeps me eating vegetables every single day. My current top four veggies choices: sautéed zucchini noodles (garlic powder, salt, pepper in ghee), sautéed mushrooms (with minced garlic, salt, pepper in ghee), roasted sweet potatoes (chili powder, salt, pepper in olive oil), roasted Brussels sprouts (garlic powder, salt, pepper, in olive oil).
  • Find healthy snacks you love. Every week, I buy a container of fresh almond butter from my local PCC grocery store. It’s expensive but it’s a 10 on a satisfaction level and it helps me from wanting to eat sugar. Sometimes I eat it on celery, while most times, I get out my tablespoon and a tiny spoon to eat it with. I eat two TBs slowly and savor. Other things I enjoy: roasted nuts, Pink lady apples, whole carrots, bell peppers, a plain rice cake with almond butter + fruit spread or my Trader Joe nitrite-free ham. All great healthy choices, but most of all, they tame my sugar cravings because I find all these snacks very satisfying.
  • Choose a variety of protein choices. Yes, there are many benefits to white fish, chicken breast or 99% ground turkey. I have many go-to meals where those choices are delicious, but I don’t eat them 24/7. Egg whites also fall into this category. I incorporate eggs, chicken thighs, pulled pork or steaks a few times in my weekly meals. Since they have more flavor because of the slightly higher fat level, they keep me on track instead of wanting to get takeout Thai, pizza or burgers. Plus, it’s a nice balance between the leaner choices I make throughout the week. Example: A few meals a week for breakfast I’ll make two fried eggs, I’ll choose the carnitas at the Whole Foods buffet for lunch and for the past month, I’ve been roasting chicken thighs for one meal a week. Since my satisfaction level is so high with these meals, I don’t find myself with sugar cravings afterwards or wishing I had gone out for pizza instead.

Bottom line: I prefer to make the healthy choices over my favorite comfort foods because I learned how to make them really satisfying. I still love going out for pizza, but I no longer want it as much as I used to.

For exercise: Ask yourself if you look forward to your next workout? If exercise feels like a chore, you might not have found what you like yet. I realize there are some people who simply don’t like exercising, but there has to be a reason to keep them doing it every week. Do they like the increased energy? Do they like how it relieves stress? Do they like how their clothes fit? Do they enjoy the personal satisfaction of completing a workout? Regardless, there needs to find a deep reason for exercising every week, otherwise it won’t truly stick as a lifestyle. Here are some my go-to workout choices and the reasoning behind it.

  1. Walking. I walk at least 30 minutes every day. For me, I have to move daily to release the small stressors in life that build up. Walking allows me to clear my head, resets my intentions and truly makes me feel better. I also like the personal satisfaction of hitting my step goal of 10,000+ steps. Lastly, it’s an opportunity to spend time with my dog. He loves his walks and when he is happy, I’m happy.
  2. Strength Training. I commit to three full body workouts a week. I try to stick to the same days every week for the habit (Tuesday, Friday, Sunday). These are usually my favorite days of the week for exercise. Lifting weights makes me feel strong physically and mentally, plus I like the challenge of trying new movements. I switch my strength program every four weeks to prevent boredom, but also to keep my body from adapting to my program.
  3. High Intensity Intervals. Again, I try to stick to specific days of the week for the habit. I take a boxing class every Thursday morning. Nothing feels better than hitting and kicking the crap out of a punching bag. I also enjoy incline walking. Recently, I’ve set the goal of trying to climb 2,000 feet in less than 30 minutes. It’s my latest challenge! I also love completing sprint intervals. All three of these workouts leave me feeling happier after ever session.

Bottom line: if you haven’t found something you like to do for exercise, be open minded and try new things. Maybe you’ll learn you love to exercise in a group setting or in the comfort of your own home.

If you are currently working on building lasting healthy habits, pay attention to what may cause you to fall off track. Are you not enjoying your workouts? Are your meals satisfying? After years of practice and learning, I’ve finally found what works for me. Don’t give up on your journey. The more your work it, the easier it gets! Remember, you don’t want to strive to be perfect. 80-90% compliance gets great results and truly helps a habit stick forever.

Five Exercises to Do With a Step Box or Bench

 

Plyo boxes, weight benches or aerobic step boxes are great pieces of equipment to use for strength training. You don’t always have to go to the gym to use this type of equipment. You can get creative with what you have at home or invest in a box or bench for a home gym.

Here are some exercises I incorporate into my strength training every week:

 

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Step Ups (8-10 reps each side, 3 sets)

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  • You can hold a weight at each side or hold a heavier weight in front of your body. Both challenge your body in different ways.
  • Focus on making sure you feel the exercise in the leg that steps to the box first. As you can see in the video, my left foot steps on the box first. I should feel all the work in my left glute and entire left leg.
  • If you feel any knee pain, check your position. You should see a 90 degree angle with your knee stacking over your ankle. Sometimes it helps if your knee stays slightly behind the ankle too. 
  • Brace your core and don’t use momentum to get to the top of the box. Simply step to it. If you find yourself forcing yourself up, the weight is too heavy. 

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Step Up + Reverse Lunge

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  • This is a nice combo to tax the glutes and legs even more. 
  • When you step up, drive the entire foot into the step box. As you step back into a reverse lunge, push the entire front foot into the floor, making sure you feel your glute work. 
  • Don’t forget your 90 degree angles for both exercises. 

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Hip Thrust (10-15 reps, 3 sets)

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This is my favorite exercise to do right now. It’s great at targeting your glutes!

  • Find the right size box for you. The benches don’t work for me because I’m too short, but an aerobics box with 4 risers works or this plyo box in the video. The box should hit you just under your shoulder blades. 
  • Tuck you feet under your knees and keep your shins vertical as you drive up the weight.
  • As you drive the weight up, keep your chin tucked and eyes forward. Don’t look up towards the ceiling. 
  • Squeeze your glutes hard at the top. Your knees should slightly push out to make sure your glutes are turned on. 

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Elevated Glute Bridge (with or without weight) 20 reps, 3 sets

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I have been doing this at the end of my strength workouts lately. It’s a great finisher!

  • Drive through your heels to make sure your glutes are working. Squeeze hard at the top. 
  • If you feel more in your hamstrings, check your foot position. Your knees should stack mostly over your hips. 
  • For more of a challenge, use a mini band for this exercise. Place above your knees. 

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Box Jumps (5-8 reps, 2-3 sets)

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  • This is a great explosive exercise for advanced lifters. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with joint issues or new to an exercise program. 
  • Complete this after a thorough warm up. I don’t recommend doing this after or during your strength exercises. 
  • Land soft on the box. Imagine you can’t make a sound as you land on the box. 
  • Stand all the way up to finish the exercise. Once you land on the box, stand all the way. I see many people jump right back down after landing. 

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Diet or Exercise? What’s More Important When Seeking Results?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the course of my journey is that you can’t out train a bad diet. In my early twenties, I always tried to exercise more to compensate for my poor nutrition choices. It wasn’t until I focused on eating the right food where I started to see my body change. When I committed 30 days to my nutrition at the start of this year for my Whole30, I saw great results without adding more exercise or even changing my exercise routine.

As a health and fitness professional, both diet and exercise are important. But, if I were to put a percentage on both, nutrition is much more powerful. As many of us say, it’s 80% nutrition, 20% exercise. It’s true! Some people who just focus on their nutrition and put minimal effort into their exercise can see great results. If you find you’re putting a lot of effort into your workouts, but are not seeing your body change, it’s time to take a look at your daily nutrition.

Three Key Nutrition Habits To Focus on

2.) Eat at least 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day

– this isn’t breaking news. We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables to live a healthy lifestyle but it’s certainly important if you’re seeking results. Most Americans eat more fruit than vegetables. When seeking weight loss, focus on eating more vegetables than fruit. I like a 4:1 ratio (for every four servings of vegetables, eat one serving of fruit). This equals out to probably one serving of fruit a day. Everyone is unique, so you can start there and add more if you need it.

How to do it? If you’re a visual person, look at a meal plan visual here.

Make a Switch. First, take a minute to think about what you’re eating for meals or snacks. If you notice you eat crackers, chips, granola bars or cookies on a regular basis, start to replace those items with a fruit or vegetable. When I first started changing my diet, I was eating a lot of crackers, granola bars, pasta, pizza, frozen dinners and bread. I slowly started replacing my snack foods with vegetables or fruit and for my meals, I replaced grains with more vegetables.

Pair a Vegetable with Every Meal You Eat. It’s easy to eat fruit on-the-go, but vegetables are a little bit more work. To help yourself eat more vegetables, buy conveniently already chopped vegetables from the store or commit a few time each day to chop. Of course it’s more expensive to buy already chopped vegetables from the store, but if that’s going to help you eat more vegetables, go for it! I also buy a lot of pre-washed bagged salad. It’s not that much more in money but it’s a time saver! Every meal, ask yourself what your vegetable choice will be. For breakfast, maybe you throw in spinach into a breakfast smoothie or make a frittata loaded with vegetables.

2.) Protein

Protein helps you build and maintain your muscle mass, helps you stay full between meals and stabilizes your blood sugar. It plays a big role in seeking body change. So, how much protein should you eat a meal?

Focus on the size of your palm. This is a good start for the average person, but some people who are very active will need more. Start to read your labels to see how much protein is in the food you’re eating.

Protein Choices I buy every week at the grocery store 

  • Chicken breast (1-2 packages)
  • Boneless chicken thighs
  • Ground Turkey
  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Chicken
  • Tuna fish
  • Canned chicken
  • Mahi Mahi or some type of white fish
  • Eggs
  • Breakfast Sausage Links

* I eat most meals from home and cook for two. This always gets us through the week!

3.) Water – at least 8 cups or half your body weight in ounces.

When I first started dating my now husband, he always teased me that I never drank any water. It’s true! I was always drinking diet pepsi, diet peach Snapple or Propel. Wow, have things changed! Not only does water keep your body hydrated but it plays a role in healthy skin, improves energy and of course, helps with weight loss.

Two things that helped me drink more water:

  • Buy a nice water bottle and carry it everywhere you go. Every time you leave the house, be sure to grab your water bottle. I have two water bottles that I really enjoy, but when I first started trying to drink more water, I found having a water bottle with a straw really helped me.
  • Add flavor when you are tired of plain water. Sometimes I get tired of plain water so I always have lemons or limes on hand to add a bit of flavor when I need it. There are many options you can use besides lemon or lime: berries, cucumber, mint, etc. Sparkling water is also a nice treat, but I always open one once I’ve already had my filtered water goal for the day (75 ounces).

If you feel like you are working hard in the gym, but aren’t seeing the results you want, it might be time to assess your diet. How many times a week are you eating out? How many desserts? Alcohol? All those factor into seeing the results you want. Most importantly, remember why you want the results you’re looking for. My biggest goal this year is to watch my sugar intake. I want to enjoy it when I want, but not let it get out of control with cravings. Sugar can be a slippery slope for me, but still a month after my Whole30, I feel good about my relationship and it’s helped me see better results.

Six Things I Look for BEFORE Investing in a Gym Membership

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I have always loved being in a gym environment. Now, I realize not everyone loves the gym. Maybe it’s being around others, the driving time to even get to the gym, or not knowing what to do, people have countless reasons for not ever wanting to have a gym membership. The good thing is you can get results anywhere! However, I wanted to write a quick post for those individuals who do have a gym membership. I have been a member of several gyms over the last ten years, but I always do a walk through before actually signing up for a membership. Here are six “must have” equipment items a gym needs to have before I invest in a membership. These items help me stay engaged in working out consistently because they offer variety & an enjoyable workout.

 

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1.) Bumper Plates and Barbells

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Now, most gyms will have squat racks or benches with barbells, but not all gyms have bumper plates. Bumper plates are ideal because they are smooth all the way, which allows you to do exercises like deadlifts or hip thrusts much easier. The other plates at the gym have edges (like an octagon) so every rep you complete from the floor isn’t as smooth because it catches the edge and sometimes it shifts the barbell. Now, it’s not the end of the world if the gym doesn’t have bumper plates but it’s a big win if they do. 

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2.) TRX

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TRX training continues to get more popular. Even studios like Orange Theory or small group studios have them. They are great for your strength training program because it allows you to make an exercise easier or harder. Plus, it stabilizes your core with every exercise. 

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3.) Cable Machine

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This is another great machine to do a wide variety of upper body and core exercises. I don’t do much for lower body strength exercises, but there are a few isolating moves you can do.

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4.) Kettlebells and Medicine Balls

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These two pieces of equipment are great for more explosive exercises, as well as “aerobic” strength moves.  Plus, they make doing cardio fun! 

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5.) Plyometric Boxes

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Not only are they great for basic moves like step ups or elevated glute bridges, but you can also do explosive exercises like box jumps. Not all gyms have these soft boxes like mine, but it’s a huge plus if you enjoy doing box jumps since because they provide a soft landing. It also helps if you have a mental block or fear of not being able to land on the top of the box. 

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6.) Assisted Pull Up Machine

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For most women, it’s hard to do a pull up and in order to get stronger at them, you have to practice. The pull up machine is a great tool to use to improve your upper body strength. The more weight you use, the more the machine will help you. The goal: use less weight every month so you can eventually complete a pull up on your own. The assisted pull up machine is also great for completing higher reps. I’ll use it if I’m trying to complete 15 reps. 

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So, if you currently have a gym membership and are not using any of the following equipment items, walk around your gym to see if they are available. Stay tuned for next week as I have prepared to share my favorite go-to exercises using the equipment above!

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4 Exercises to Do Daily

4 Exercises To Do Daily

Exercise is therapeutic to me and I find a way to move daily. Whether it’s leisure walking, yoga, strength training, interval training, foam rolling or mobility drills, these movements clear my head and make my body feel good.

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Now, we don’t want to stress our body every day so doing movement like leisure walking or mobility drills is a great way to move with low intensity. The four movements below focus on improving or maintaining your mobility in your hips and thoracic spine, as well as engaging your core and helping you move in a better range of motion. They can also help you improve exercises like squats or lunges, as well as relieve low back pain.

I complete all of these movements before every strength and interval workout.

It’s my warm up and gets my blood flowing. You can also do these movements to wind down at night in front of the television. I even recorded these videos in my own living room!

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Squat to Stand – complete 5-10 reps

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Key Tips:

  • Keep your heels on the ground the whole time. Don’t let your heels rise off the floor. 
  • In the down position, lower yourself down to a position that’s comfortable. If you have tight hips, it might be challenging. Lift your chest and pull your shoulders slightly down. You should feel some engagement in your upper back. Also, using your elbows, push them against your knees, letting them slightly go out. You’ll feel a good stretch in your hips.
  • In the up position, focus on feeling a good stretch in the back side of your body.

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Lateral Lunge – complete 5-10 reps each side

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Key Tips:

  • Keep your heel on the side you are lunging towards. If you are finding you can’t keep it down, lift your hips and chest so you are higher off the ground.
  • Drive the toes up on the extended leg. You should feel a better stretch in your inner thigh.
  • For a challenge, keep your hands off the floor and as you move side to side, keep your hips as low as possible. Pause for a few seconds at each side.

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World’s Greatest Stretch Combo – complete 5 reps each move

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Movement One Key Tips: Keep the front foot flat on the ground and fully extend your bag leg by squeezing your quad strong. I prefer to keep both hands on the inside of the front foot. Focus on feeling a good stretch in your hip flexor (back leg).

Movement Two Key Tips: Drive the toes up, keep a flat back and ease into the stretch. You should feel a good pull in the back of the leg.

Movement Three Key Tips: Keeping the front foot flat and back leg extended, slowly rotate with your upper back. You should keep the front of the back leg still, not letting the front of your hip rotate. For the arm reaching up, focus on reaching the hand towards the ceiling, as if you are trying to touch it. You want to get a nice stretch in your upper back.

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Inch Worm – complete 5 to 8 reps

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This is a great move to engage your core, shoulders, hamstrings and calves.

Key Tips:

  • As you walk out into a push up position, brace your core and reach your hands out as much as you can without letting your low back collapse. This challenges your core and shoulders. 
  • As you walk your hands back to your feet, brace your core again to avoid letting your hips sway back and forth. Try to walk your hands to your feet, driving your heels to the floor. If you can’t get your hands to your feet, find a range of motion that works for you.

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Struggling with keeping your heels down in these movements? Start working on your ankle mobility.

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You’ll want to focus on your front foot. Drive your knee as far forward as you can without letting your front heel lift. How good is your mobility? Ideal ankle mobility is when you can get the center of your knee past your big toe. Complete 10 reps each side for 2-3 sets.

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Three Fat Burning Treadmill Workouts Under 25 Minutes

25 Minute or Less Fat Burning Treadmill Workouts

With the weather still being too cold, I have had to keep my interval training workouts indoors. While treadmills aren’t the most liked piece of cardio equipment, you can use them to put together a short, effective workout. Like I talked about in this article, you should always prioritize your strength workouts first but if you have more time, interval training is the next piece to burning fat and increasing your metabolism. These workouts could also be done after strength training (if you can only exercise 2-3x a week), but I would do about 10 minutes of intervals.

Here are three workouts I have been doing lately using a treadmill. For you, pick three speeds/inclines that get you out of your comfort zone. I have listed mine. You’ll notice the speed and time will vary, but at the end of each interval, you want to feel like you’re working hard.

Three 25 Minute or Under Treadmill Workouts

Workout #1 – Flat Sprint Intervals 

Warm up – walk at a comfortable speed for 2 minutes

  • After each interval, I hop off the treadmill, decrease my speed to a slow walking speed and rest as long (about 30-40 seconds) as I need until I can sprint again. Including the warm up, this takes me a little less than 25 minutes. If you are finding you are needing longer rest time between each interval, subtract two 60 second intervals from the workout. At the end of the workout, I cool down until my heart rate decreases (1-2 minutes).
Speed Incline Interval Length Time
9.5 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.6 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.7 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.7 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.7 mph Flat 60 seconds
11.2 mph Flat 30 seconds
11.2 mph Flat 30 seconds
11.2 mph Flat 30 seconds
11.2 mph Flat 30 seconds
12.0 mph Flat 20 seconds
12.0 mph Flat 20 seconds
12.0 mph Flat 20 seconds

Workout #2 – Sprints with hills 

I will complete this workout on treadmills where the highest speed or incline is less than my gym’s treadmill. Again, I warm up and cool down just like the previous workout example. I also rest as long as I need with each interval (usually 30-40 seconds).

Speed Incline Interval Length Time
9.5 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.6 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.7 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.7 mph Flat 60 seconds
9.7 mph Flat 60 seconds
10.0 mph 3% 30 seconds
10.0 mph 3% 30 seconds
10.0 mph 3% 30 seconds
10.0 mph 3% 30 seconds
10.0 mph 5% 20 seconds
10.0 mph 5% 20 seconds
10.0 mph 5% 20 seconds

Workout #3 – Don’t Like to Run? Try This. 

Note: Treadmills vary with incline. Luckily at my gym, the treadmills go all the way up 30%. Most treadmills go up to 12-15%. Remember, find three inclines that push you outside your comfort zone. If you find the highest incline doesn’t challenge you, try increasing your speed or trying Workout #2. I will complete Workout #2 when I visit my parents using their treadmill. Rest as long as you need after each interval. I usually drop the incline to 10-12% after each interval and when my body feels it’s ready to complete another interval, I increase the incline back to where it needs to be. If your legs are tired, I would decrease the incline to more of a flat incline during every rest period.

Key tip for incline walking: Brace your core and pump your arms. By avoiding holding onto the rails, you’ll work your abs, glutes and legs much more.

Warm up – 2 minutes at a comfortable pace

Speed Incline Interval Length Time
3.4 mph 24% 60 seconds
3.4 mph 24% 60 seconds
3.4 mph 24% 60 seconds
3.4 mph 24% 60 seconds
3.4 mph 24% 60 seconds
3.4 mph 27% 40 seconds
3.4 mph 27% 40 seconds
3.4 mph 27% 40 seconds
3.4 mph 27% 40 seconds
3.4 mph 30% 30 seconds
3.4 mph 30% 30 seconds
3.4 mph 30% 30 seconds

 

Whole30 is the best nutrition program to follow

My Whole30 Experience and 15 Reasons Why I Feel It’s the Best Nutrition Program to Follow

I’ve known about the Whole30 program for a few years. I remember reading their first book in 2014 “It Starts With Food” and having mixed emotions. At first, I loved learning the science behind their nutrition program, but it was hard not to get a little defensive because many of the foods they said weren’t ideal were in my diet regularly. I had thoughts like, “well, that’s not realistic for me. I can’t eliminate Greek yogurt forever.” I also had a hard time relating to the authors because they never talked about what high calorie/less nutrient foods they consumed from time to time. But, my thoughts completely changed after their second book was released “The Whole30” and Melissa’s third book “Food Freedom Forever” because they started feeling relatable! Aw, Melissa loves Cadbury eggs and cupcakes AND she eats them? Ok, now I’m listening!

I’ve done two short versions of the Whole30 before and felt a big difference in my body. I could work 12+ hours but still have energy to go to the gym afterwards. I learned what foods I could live without because they affected my body in a noticeable way. Most of all, I slayed my sweet tooth.

So, after the holidays, I wanted to participate in the official “January Whole30” to feel involved in their community and challenge myself to complete a full 30 days of the program. Luckily, I found a friend who was also doing it, so it’s been fun to support each other.

Since I’ve done two short versions in the past, there wasn’t a lot of shock to my routine. I had already taken out a few things of my regular meals (protein bars, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils) Sometimes I indulge in bread, pasta, peanut butter or cheese, but most likely I’m eating something I enjoy or am at a favorite restaurant.

January Whole30: There were a few things I had to take a break from in my weekly routine including the following:

  • Half & Half in my coffee – it wasn’t much since I only drink 8 oz. a day, but 1.5 TB was removed (daily)
  • 1 Tsp sugar in my coffee (daily)
  • Plain Rice Cakes (about 3x a week)
  • Brown or White Rice (about once a week)
  • Tillamook Cheese (about once a week)
  • Going out to a favorite restaurant 1-2x a week (pizza, Thai, Mexican, burger)
  • 1-2 Desserts a week (sometimes it would be a few squares of chocolate and other times it would be a slice of cake or cookie.)

January Whole30 Replacements

I went 28 years of not being a coffee drinker until I took a trip to Vienna, Austria. The coffee was amazing and I wanted to continue to enjoy it once I returned home. So, we bought a nice espresso machine and my little cup of Joe brings me joy in the morning.

Thanks to Nutritiously Rooted, I was given the tip to use coconut oil for a dairy-free ‘cream’ option. I put maybe ½ tsp of coconut oil into my 8 oz. coffee and blend it with a blender. Delicious coffee! It has a subtle sweetness & creaminess.

15 Reason Why I Believe the Whole30 Program is The Best Nutrition Available

  1. It’s free!
    • Like many programs out there, you have to invest in their products. Whether it’s breakfast/snack/lunch/dinners you eat every day, meal replacement shakes/bars, energy drinks, cleanses or supplements, most of the time you hear they feel great because they use their products. The Whole30 is just food and their entire program is free on their website. Although the books are a great resource, they are not necessary to be successful.
  2. You feel amazing from just food (hence their first book, “It Starts with Food!”)
    • Again, no magic here. Just food. It’s amazing how hard work and dedication towards eating the right foods can transform so much in your mind and body.
  3. You feel way more than willpower during and after the program (MY FAVORITE REASON)
    • Your willpower will get stronger the more you test it. But sometimes testing your willpower leaves you with a feeling of being deprived. It’s like you secretly want it, but are choosing to not indulge. The Whole30 gave me a whole new perspective on my favorite foods. When normally I would jump to get a Dairy Queen cone, PCC cookie, or any homemade dessert, after completing the Whole30, I didn’t have the same feeling around them. Instead of feeling like “YES! GOTTA have it now!” I had thoughts like, “do I really want it?” Throughout the program, I did have thoughts that specific foods like pizza, cookies or nachos sounded good to eat, but those feelings were never strong enough to actually eat it. I was even around pizza, homemade cookies and ice cream during my Whole30, but felt at peace around them and not deprived. Even as I was approaching my last few days of the Whole30, I wasn’t counting down the days until I could eat cookies, pizza or dessert again. These are feelings I never thought would exist for me. I’m aware that this may change months down the road, but I know I can always resort back to a Whole30 when I feel I’m craving sugar more than I want to.
  4. You learn what works for you.
    • After doing abbreviated versions twice, I learned I feel best when I don’t eat beans, cottage cheese, protein bars, Greek yogurt, etc. Even though rice & oatmeal are excluded in their program, I have found I don’t notice a difference in my body when I eat it, but they aren’t a regular item in my meal plans anymore. Sometimes I can have a little cheese and be fine, but if I have too much, I notice a negative impact. Same with bread. A little is fine, but several slices makes me feel different.
  5. Taste buds are transformed (2nd Favorite Reason)
    • Since you do not consume any added sugar or artificial sugar, simple things like strawberries taste really sweet. Your taste buds transform! My new cup of coffee tastes sweet without sugar and I can taste the ingredients in every meal. A few years ago, I remember eating my favorite go-to protein bar after taking a six week break. It didn’t even taste good and I haven’t gone back since. Another positive with having your taste buds transform: you need less of your favorite sweet treats. You are simply satisfied with less.
  6. It changes your relationship with food.
    • Not only did it help me slay my weekly sweet tooth, but I recognized eating habits with other areas of my life. If I was feeling upset, it was natural to comfort those feelings with something sweet. Many people learn how to re-work their eating habits so they aren’t emotionally eating. For example, when the Seahawks lost versus the Falcons on 1/14, I wanted a cookie. But, those feelings were stemming from my sad mood vs. actually wanting a cookie.
  7. Your energy skyrockets naturally.
    • My energy stayed steady all day throughout most of the program. No crashes. No naps. No wanting to skip a workout because I was tired. I had a few days that didn’t feel like my energy was through the roof, but I could easily pinpoint why.
  8. You elevate your cooking skills.
    • Since you are eating real food 24/7, you get lots of practice preparing meals and it’s actually fun. Your confidence in the kitchen increases the more you experiment with new recipes.
  9. Your skin glows.
    • I do my best to take care of my skin by washing my face every night and moisturizing twice daily, but I felt like I had a better glow compared to my normal.
  10. It doesn’t feel like a diet.
    • Could I follow the Whole30 diet forever? If I wanted to. I know there will be moments when foods that have sugar, gluten, dairy, etc. will come up, but I can choose if I want to indulge. What I can do forever is follow the Whole30 90% of the time. Every meal I cook from home (but one) follows the Whole30 and is very satisfying! With practice, I also know how to eat out at restaurants while still following the Whole30 plan.
  11. Weight Loss/Fat Loss.
    • I noticed throughout the program that my body felt firmer, especially in my arms & legs. I lost six pounds. This is a nice perk and can keep your motivation high to continue but it’s definitely not my favorite reason why I love the Whole30.
  12. You become a leader to others.
    • Since I have practicing cooking mostly Whole30 meals at home for a few years, I have found I’ve inspired others along the way. Whether it’s sharing a go-to recipe with my sister or cooking for others, people start to pay attention. My father-in-law actually lived with us for 10 months and he has even told us he eats way more vegetables now (living on his own) because of our cooking.
  13. Recipe library!
    • This is another great reason why I love the Whole30, new recipes! When you are sick of your healthy go-to recipes, I find myself wanting comfort food. The Whole30 allowed me to add more recipes to my go-to dinner menu. Eggs mildly bother my throat so I can’t eat them too often. This forced me to find new breakfast foods and it was a fun experience. Plus, it’s something I can easily continue post Whole30. I did buy their cookbook and it’s been fun to experiment with recipes. I made a homemade mayo, which I really liked and also found new recipes that I can make every month.
  14. Tough love!
    • Melissa Hartwig is famous for her tough love talk to the Whole30 community and I couldn’t be more thankful. I always keep her in mind when it comes to taming my sugar dragon. Throughout the beginning of my Whole30 this month, I had thoughts like “Am I wanting to eat fruit because I want something sweet?” and “Is this going to tame my sugar dragon?”
  15. Nutrition Label King/Queen.
    • The good thing about reading labels with everything you buy is eventually you don’t have to do it anymore. You form a habit (and remember) what items don’t have added sugar, carrageenan, or other non-compliant ingredients. Days before starting my Whole30 journey, I did notice I was buying some items that weren’t Whole30 compliant like deli ham and sausages, but it gave me that awareness. After finding new foods, I can easily replace them with better options.

Bonus: My husband loved every single Whole30 meal I made. He did not do a Whole30 with me, but he enjoyed the meals and even commented that he feels best when he eats that way. For those of you worried that your family members won’t do the program with you, it’s totally okay if they don’t. I made my Whole30 meals but would add items like bread, rice, tortillas, sour cream, etc to many of his meals. He did enjoy official Whole30 meals too. It’s a win for me and him.

Hopefully this blog post gave you more insight on my Top 15 “wins” with the Whole30 program. If you’re having feelings that this program is too strict, just try it. How you feel after completing the program is worth it!

Here is an example of some of my meals. Some are super simple while others take 30 minutes or less.

Bruges

As far as small town charm, Bruges is just as great as Rothenburg, Germany. 

Two Nights

Enjoy the Market Square

From restaurant terraces, the Bell Tower and old buildings, this square is quite charming. There are even a few food vendor stands. We split an order of Belgian-style French fries and a hot dog and simply people watched. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a farmer’s market is held in the Market Square. It was so fun to shop the stands and I only wished we would have rented an apartment so we could cook like a local.

Visit the Church of Our Lady

This holds the famous Michelangelo statue Madonna and Child. It’s the only statue that was able to leave Italy! The church was under construction during our visit and there is a fee to see the inside, but we enjoyed it.

Enjoy the local desserts

Ok, the moment you step into the square you can smell chocolate! There are chocolate shops everywhere! As as matter of fact, they have an entire “Chocolate Row” street dedicated to their famous Belgian chocolate. I bought chocolates from the well known Dumon shop and B&B. The Belgian waffles are also delicious! This one is from Chez Albert. Yum!

Take the De Halve Maan Brewery Tour

An 1856 brewery, we toured both the new and old areas of the brewery. They still kept the 150 year old beer casks and cooling rooms. Funny enough, the highlight of the tour was the viewpoint from the top of the brewery. It overlooked all of Bruges. It was a great tour and ended with a freshly brewed beer.

Rent a bike and ride the outer skirts of town

We peddled all over the place! We had 3 hours with the bikes and rode around the city moat viewing original windmills and stopping at a park to take a break and watch the lazy river make its way around. Locals here were picnicking, reading books and taking naps.

Wander the city and enjoy it’s beauty

Some locations are so pretty they are known as the Postcard Canal View or Picturesque bridge. We enjoyed walking to the Minnewater which is filled with weeping willows, swans and a peaceful lake. If you like ruins, be sure to check out the Crowne Plaza Hotel. In the basement rooms are lined with original stone walls and there are many display cases filled with what modern archaeologists found here.

Other highlights

The Basilica of Holy Blood : This double-decker church, built in 1150, holds the drops of Christ’s blood a Crusader brought back from Jerusalem. We were there to observe the relic itself. This church also has a pretty painting at the alter and it tells the story of how the blood arrived in Bruges.

For local cuisine, try the mussels! I’m not a big seafood person, but when I travel, I love to have as many local experiences as I can. No matter what restaurant you choose, it’s a good meal to split because the pot is huge!